Aug 192016


Just to clarify, we did not take advantage of the offer advertised above, but it seems my husband was considering it.

As part of our new school year, I am making it a point to celebrate various holidays (official or not) throughout the year.  As it so happens, the second day of school finds us celebrating the first one on the list – National Aviation Day.  It also happens to be the 145th birthday of a famous aviator.  Even if your knowledge of aviation history is left wanting, the name Orville Wright may ring a few bells.

Born on August 19, 1871, Orville and his brother Wilbur created the first flying machine.  While hot air balloons were already in use, these flying machines were “heavier than air, self-propelled, and controllable.

As one who has used the very handy machines to travel to the other parts of the world several times, I am thankful for their dedication and persistence in finding solutions to the challenges of flight for us wingless creatures.

If you are finding yourself at a loss for ideas to help Orville celebrate his birthday, NASA put together a list last year of 10 ways they like to celebrate National Aviation Day.  Perhaps one of them will give you an idea.

As today is our second day of school, a field trip to a local aviation museum was planned. What better way to start the new school year?  Jack suggested we wait a day so the whole family could go together.  I guess we will be sending belated birthday wishes.

In the mean time, I think an introduction to model building is in order.  These kits look like they could be good places to start. We have done brick building before, with Legos and other brands, so I am thinking we will try a wooden model this time.  However, the Lego kit looks awfully tempting.


Another idea are paper airplanes.  These are easy to make, can be made anywhere with limited supplies, yet require a sense of flight and aerodynamics that comes with practice.  When the kids were younger I found a copy of The World Record Paper Airplane Book at a garage sale. It served us well during a few trips which found us waiting for periods of time in open spaces.  Some of the folds were complicated, even for us adults.  This is not a book for you to hand you little ones and walk off.  However, flying the various planes was fun and enlightening.

What are some ways you will be celebrating today?  If you do take a picture of yourself, either with arms spread catching the breeze or in a glider high above the ground, please share it with us over on our Facebook page.  We would love to see how you have chosen to share in this day of wonder.

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Feb 162016

Rockome Gardens heart arrow

This post was originally set to be shared last week, before Valentine’s Day. However, a cold going through the house, a half day of school for George, my husband needing the computer for a school paper, and other things rose up to delay it being written.  Even if it is too late for Valentine’s Day this year, I hope you can take some inspiration away either for next year or for a future get together you are planning.  Sometimes, keeping things simple and schedule free works really well.

Last week I stepped outside of my comfort zone and invited some other kids over for a Valentine’s Day Party.  The goal was to make Jack feel less left out, and more like he can still have a life even if he is schooled at home.

One of the challenges of schooling only one kid at home is the lack of instant people to populate a ‘party’.  If there were 2 or 3 or 7 kids being taught here at home then it would be easy to have fun all on our own.  Having your mom and you at a part does not rank high on the coolness level when you are 6.  That becomes more like a fun activity than a party.

One of the challenges of home schooling one kid while sending the other to public school is the feelings of missing out when your public school sibling comes home with all these treats from the latest holiday party.  And you are not allowed to have any, which only makes it worse.

So, out of my comfort zone I stepped.  Messages were sent, invites given, and we awaited word.  To be honest, I only spoke to 3 families, with 5 kids between us.  Next time I am going to try reaching out to more.

The morning of the party, I had not heard back from anyone.  “Will anyone even come?” my inner voiced asked, always in doubt as to whether anyone will say “yes”.

I prepped Jack for the possibility that no one may come, as I had not heard a peep from any of the families.

It got to be party time and no one came.  I said, “Give it a few minutes, maybe they are running late.”

10 minutes later I get a text from Family #3, “We are running late.  Our keys are lost.”  Yes!  “Hey, Jack ….”

I let out a sigh of relief.  I would not have to resort to Plan B, which would have been more work for me the next day (7 kids and only me to supervise) and involve several families I know who send their kids to public school. (It was to be a half day for George, so I knew the mom’s would not object to someone offering to watch their kids for a few hours for free.)

I set the house up with 3 different stations, Montessori style.  The activities were there if the kids wanted to do them, but they did not have to do any of them.  They could also do as much of one station as they wanted to, if their hearts desired.  It was to be a completely child led morning.  I would make lunch, but the rest was up to them.

Station #1 was a Craft Activity.  A table was set up in the middle of our dinning room with crazy scissors, construction papers, coloring pages, glue, markers, and crayons.  They could color pictures, make bookmarks, make cards for people, or whatever else they could think of.

This activity was left up for a few days as Jack and George were really getting into it.  In the end it was only taken down because my husband needed the table back.

Valentines craft children

Station #2 was making Lollipop Flowers. Thanks to Katie at Ruffles & Truffles, I had a tutorial to follow.  While doing this in order to take pictures to show you, I placed and rolled the sucker in step #4 from the right side, or end, of the crepe paper.  Every other time I did it, I rolled from the other end, which I found easier.  Maybe the difference was all in my head, but I did want to mention it in case you were wondering.

This was also what I did for George to take to school for his class valentines.  For him I was unable to find a bag us suckers like the ones below and used the small version of Tootsie Roll Pops instead.  I did not like the look of them as well, since their wrapping sticks up off the sucker some.  Live and learn.  The kids did not care as candy is candy, that was all they was their only concern.

Lollipop flowers valentines collage

Station #3 was Decorating Cupcakes at a table in the kitchen.  I picked up an assortment of decorating items.  The amazing part was it taking me 4 different stores to find sprinkles and other decorative additions.  I was thoroughly shocked that it was so hard to find.  It got to be to the point where I was thinking of other crafts we could do.

These turned out to be a hit.  So much so that the pictures below are actually of ones Jack and George made after the party; the others were eaten immediately after they were made.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

In the end the day was a success.  I liked the set up as it took little work for me once things began.  Next time, I think I will head to a local park and invite a somewhat different set of families.


Feb 032016

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At the beginning of the year, I made it a point to start celebrating the various holidays throughout the year.  I had Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving pretty well down.  For activities related all the other holidays, though, I rarely did much, often forgetting about them until a day or two before.

Let me give you an example using the next holiday that will be coming up soon.  Valentines Day is a holiday my husband and I often forget about.  For example, the first year we were married we were doing our taxes when we realized the date, February 14.  Yup, we were spending our first Valentines Day as a married couple doing our taxes.  Romantic, eh?

With it already being into the month of February and Valentine’s Day once again approaching, I need to get on the ball and actually implement the thoughts I have going through my head in regards to activities with the kids.  In years past, I have had them make cards for school, or color hearts and attach them to pencils.  That was as far as I went.  And for the record, making home made cards with your Kindergartner for their class of 20-something kids may sound like a great skill building activity, but it is over rated.  The only skill you end up working on is your patience.

One of my favorite things about Valentines Day are those little heart candies.  They hold no nutritional value, they are a bit corny, but there is something about them I have a hard time refusing.  This year, one of my planned activities is to buy a bag of them and give one to each kid every day.  It will not be anything big, but will make a great quick moment to stop and remember to say, “I love you” every day.

Not only will I be able to find these wonderful little hearts at the store, but Swagbucks has also cooked up a batch that is sure to make you feel great.  They call them SwagHearts!

Collect all 5 candy heart-themed Collector Bills and you will earn a 20 SB bonus!

For those of you who are wondering what Collector Bills are, let me explain.

How Do I Get Collector Bills?

It is simple.  Search the web through the Swagbucks Search Engine through Friday, February 12th at 11:59 pm PT/Saturday, February 13th 2:59 am ET, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector Bill valued at either:

  • 8 SB
  • 14 SB
  • 25 SB
  • 32 SB
  • 39 SB


What happen when I get a Collector Bill?

When you win a limited edition Collector Bill you will receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bill” ledger.  Collect all 5 bills an you will instantly earn a 20 SB bonus!

Is it possible to collect the same Collector Bills multiple times?

Yes, you could collect any of the Collector Bills multiple times by February 12th, and you receive the value of the bill each time.  After all, who does not love candy!

Pro-tip: Default your search engine on your browser to Swagbucks to get collectors Bills and SB every time you google “What time is the Super Bowl?” without even thinking about it.

Happy Searching!